Monday, 29 March 2021 13:33

Croatia: Fisheries protection offers social and environmental benefits

EM2 21 News Int JabukaThe Jabuka pit, an area of some 3,000 square km located in the Adriatic between Italian Pescara and Croatian Split, is an important spawning ground for hake and Norway lobster. For years, however, it has been a favoured area for commercial fishers targeting these two species, reports Euronews. Studies conducted under the AdriaMed project showed that the bottom trawls used also caught large numbers of juveniles and undersized hake. Between 2011 and 2014 prohibitions on fishing in the most vulnerable areas were largely ignored. Finally, in 2017 the GFCM adopted an EU proposal to establish a fishing restricted area (FRA) covering at least 2,700 sq. km in the Jabuka Pit, which came into force in 2018. Under the proposal the area is divided into three zones with different degrees of restrictions. The restrictions are enforced by fisheries inspectors who conduct routine checks on trawlers fishing in the small area where they are permitted to operate. Inspections can include measuring random samples from the caught, checking logbooks, and the vessel’s papers. Vessels are also tracked from land using vessel monitoring systems and from the air using drones. The data from all these sources can be combined electronically by a system which will then issue a warning if anything is amiss.

Today, the impact is seen as overwhelmingly positive as the analysis of data from surveys, commercial landings, and international studies has revealed that key populations are recovering faster than expected. Fishers too have noticed that catches, though lower than they were, are improving. Everybody wins from the situation: fishers operate sustainably catching larger individuals, securing better prices and conserving the stock for future generations, while consumers have a bigger choice of seafood as marine biodiversity recovers. Coastal communities also benefit from the increased abundance of fish as it attracts anglers and other tourists who contribute to the economy of the area. Protecting a vulnerable area from fishing can have multiple positive repercussions.